Retail Sales: Up 0.55% In May, At 3.2% YoY

The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for May was released Friday morning. Headline sales came in at 0.55% month-over-month to one decimal and was worse than the Investing.com forecast of 0.7%. Core sales (ex Autos) came in at 0.50% MoM (to two decimals).

Here is the introduction from Friday's report:

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for May 2019, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $519.0 billion, an increase of 0.5 percent (±0.5 percent)* from the previous month, and 3.2 percent (±0.7 percent) above May 2018. Total sales for the March 2019 through May 2019 period were up 3.6 percent (±0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The March 2019 to April 2019 percent change was revised from down 0.2 percent (±0.5 percent)* to up 0.3 percent (±0.1 percent).

Retail trade sales were up 0.5 percent (±0.5 percent)* from April 2019, and 3.1 percent (±0.7 percent) above last year. Nonstore retailers were up 11.4 percent (±1.4 percent) from May 2018, while sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, and book stores were down 4.2 percent (±2.5 percent) from last year. [view full report]

The chart below is a log-scale snapshot of retail sales since the early 1990's. The two exponential regressions through the data help us to evaluate the long-term trend of this key economic indicator.

Retail Sales Trends

The year-over-year percent change provides another perspective on the historical trend. Here is the headline series.

Retail Sales YoY

Core Sales

Here is the year-over-year version of Core Retail Sales.

Core Retail Sales YoY

"Control" Purchases

The next two charts illustrate retail sales "Control" purchases, which is an even more "Core" view of retail sales. This series excludes Motor Vehicles & Parts, Gasoline, Building Materials as well as Food Services & Drinking Places. The popular financial press typically ignores this series, but it a more consistent and reliable reading of the economy.

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